Groping for form, Wesley So hopes to rediscover his brilliance when he tackles Alireza Firouzja in the Aimchess US Rapid online quarterfinals starting Tuesday, August 31 (Wednesday, September 1, Philippine time).
Other matches pit top qualifier Vlaidslav Artemiev against Leinier Dominguez, world champion Magnus Carlsen against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and Levon Aronian against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
For the third straight day, So lost his opening match but still managed to advance to the knockout stage of the ninth and last regular leg of the 2021 Champions Chess Tour.
So bowed to Carlsen on Sunday, Daniel Naroditsky on Tuesday, and Artemiev on Tuesday and yet finished fifth in the preliminary phase with 9 points out of a perfect 15.
Belying his 12th seeding, Artemiev emerged unbeaten and posted 10.5 points, half a point ahead of Carlsen, who got checkmated by Firouzja in round 4.
Firouzja, who drew with So in round 5, posted 9.5 points together with Aronian.
Like So, Mamedyarov, and Duda tallied 9 points, a point ahead of Dominguez, who eased out Anish Giri for the eighth and last quarterfinal slot.
Dominguez and Giri scored 8 points each but the Team USA member emerged with the better quotient.
Another notable who headed to the exit was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with 7.5 points.
Carlsen leads the CCT overall race in points and earnings with only So having minimal chances of overtaking him.
After yielding to Artemiev, So drew with Giri, beat Liang Awonder, drew with Aronian, and trounced Jorden van Foreest to make the quarterfinals for the ninth straight time.
The Bacoor, Cavite-born So ruled the recent Grand Chess Tour and was also shining in the CCT with victories in the Skilling Open, Opera Euro Rapid and Chessable Masters. – Rappler.com